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Private Guide and Trip Report

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Private Guide and Trip Report

Other than the Tyrolean Alps, this was my first trip to Italy. For people traveling to Italy, who may be on their first trip, this was my experience.


We used Silvia at “A Friend in Rome” and were extremely happy. She gets my strongest endorsement. If you want to contact her directly or need more info let me know. See my review in the link below.



Don’t take any Euros in advance. There are ATMs everywhere. I use a Schwab One Visa card (debit/credit). They refund all ATM fees, don’t charge any transactions fees on international purchases and give you the best FX rate on ATM and purchases. Make sure to increase your daily withdrawal limit


I have a teenage daughter and am paranoid about safety. We only stayed in tourist areas and never felt unsafe. Pickpockets, however, were everywhere. One tried to steal from my daughter at Trevi. I had to chase him away. The pickpocket scams were easily identified, if you read these pages. Follow all the tips on bags / wallets and you will be fine. Having been to South Africa and Mexico, I can tell you this place is very safe in comparison. Normal big city precautions are in order, but no need to worry.


At the airport there were lots of taxis (set rates), but we always hire a private driver. In Rome, they are almost the same price as a taxi. It seems silly not to hire one. They were waiting for us as we exited baggage claim. Very nice. The hotel arranged one and we arranged our own to the port (Rome Cabs).

We walked, took a cab, or hired a private driver. Call me spoiled, but I took enough busses as a kid and have no interest. They looked very crowded and the pickpocket scams were alive and well. You could stand and watch a crowded bus and see the hand in the pocket, the baby distracting the tourist, the dropped item while someone reached in a pocket. They had a variety of busses and street cars. They appeared to range from very clean to very old. The newer cars on tracks looked very nice. If you are not in a rush, we found everything to be walkable.


I highly recommend staying in the central district. We stayed at the Albergo del Senato, which shares a piazza with the Pantheon. Our friends stayed near Piazza Navona. While there are bigger luxury hotels in other parts of Rome, I think the central district atmosphere was the best imaginable.


This is highly subjective. You can spend years in Rome and not see everything. For us, the 4 days covered the highlights perfectly. Vatican, Coliseum, Forum, Pantheon, Trevi, Spanish Steps, Old Rome, Trasevere, Jewish Ghetto, Borgese, Catacombs, churches, churches, churches. The only formal museums we saw was the Vatican and Borgese (which I highly recommend). The Vatican was crowded, but nice to see. This can take an entire day to see properly, if not more. We found early mornings were a great tiem to see things. Less crowds, cool temps and beautiful scenery.

Do online research. We went to a couple unusual places and loved them. Rome certainly has something that will make your trip unforgettable, to you. Also, get tickets in advance. We avoided every line by advanced purchasing ticketrs. It shocks me how few people do this.


It was hard not to find a quant place to eat. Almost any street restaurant will be acceptable. But, we had a great (Grappolo d'Oro) and terrible one (Antica Trattoria Al Cuppolone). Prepare to eat lots of Gelato. It is hard to resist, as they are everywhere.


We are not night people, but the streets of Old Rome are wonderful to stroll at night. The shops, people overall environment make Rome a beautiful city. Definitely visit the same sights you visited during the day. They have a different and very romantic feel at night. The Piazza Navona and Trevi look very different at night.


We are not big shoppers, so cannot say much here, other than the street vendors are highly negotiable.


A great city and it should be on the top of your list. We focused on the high tourist stuff and found it extremely inviting. Pickpockets aside, we never had any worries and found the Italian people extremely helpful and hospitable.

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1. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

good report, except, ithink it is a good idea to have a few euros when arriving .paing for limo or taxi,tipping driver,doorman at hotel,something always pops up.i go every year so I always bring a few for my next trip

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2. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

In fact, I did buy about $200 euros when I arrived. Looking back, however, there were ATMs everywhere, even in the airport. I actually got some in the airport and realized that my pretrip exchange rate was so bad, I wish I had waited.

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3. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

How did you fit so much into 4 days?!! It sounds wonderful and glad you and your family enjoyed it. Would you mind sharing a brief version of your itinerary? We are planning a 4 day stay also. Thanks for taking time to share.

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4. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

Great report, except I agree with taking some Euros with you to have upon arrival. IMHO, we all spend hundreds on our travels, then, me included, fuss about a few dollars in exchange rates. There are other ways to save money that are more convenient in the overall scheme of things.

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5. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

If you send me a PM with an email address, I will send you my spreadsheet with the detailed itinerary, as well as a walking map I created. In abridged format, here you go:

Day 1:

I developed a self guided walking tour map of central Rome (see below). I used Rick Steve audio guides, self recorded stuff, and free audio tours I found online. From wiki, Rick Steve and other written descriptions found online, I recorded my own audio tours of each venue in advance. My pronunciation of Italian names was terrible, but my family thought it was awesome. Each venue was relaxing and extremely informative.

Self Guided Route

RS = Rick Steve audio

MATT = my self created audio guide

MP3 = Others I found online.

....Albergo Del Senato

A. Pantheon - RS Audio

B. San Luigi dei Francesi - The Church of St. Louis of the French - Matt

C. Santa Maria dell'Anima - Our Lady of the Soul - Matt

D. Sant'Agnese in Agone - St Agnes at the Circus Agonalis - MATT

E. Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi - Fountain of the Four Rivers - MP3 Audio

F. Piazza Navona - MP3 Audio

Go to Churh of Gesu (Via degli Astalli, 16)- MATT

G. Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy - Matt

H. S. Maria Sopra Minevra - Saint Mary above Minerva - Matt

I. Saint Ignatius'Church - Matt

J. Trevi Fountain - MP3 Audio

K. Piazza di Spagna - Spanish Steps - MP3 audio

. Albergo Del Senato

We started at 9:00 am and finished the route by 3:00 pm and never were rushed. The audio guides made it seem like a private guide. Since we were so far ahead of schedule, we went back to Gesu and saw the 5:30 conversion machine of Andrea Pozzo. We did dinner, went back to Trevi and Navona at night and spent some time on the roof of the hotel overlooking the Pantheon.

Day 2:

Private guide, Silvia, “A Friend in Rome,” picked us up at 9:00am and we went until 5:00pm.

Trajan column and area, St. Clemente (underground area), Coliseum, Forum and area. We had lunch and went to our reservations in the Borghese museum. End of tour.

After a Siesta, walked to Castel St Angelo (did not go in), strolled St Peter square, ate at restaurant near Vatican. At night we strolled to the old town streets and Piazzas.

Day 3:

Silvia met us at the Vatican at 9:00. We got there at 8:00 and sent post cards, took pics and enjoyed grounds. Guided tour of Vatican museum lasted until 1:00 ish. After a quick snack we took at cab to catacombs. Did a tour and back to hotel by 4:00.

Brief nap, walked to Victor Emanuel Monument, went to top, then did two Rick Steve Audio tours of nearby Jewish Ghetto and Trastavere. Went in a couple of churches with RS audio guide, ate, strolled streets and back to hotel.

Day 4:

Went to mass at St Peters. Window shopping, strolled old town for the last time, and departed by noon for ship.

The End

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6. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

I am intrigued about your self recording--what did you record it on? i never thought to do that but love the idea!

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7. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

I used Adobe Soundbooth on my PC and saved it as an MP3 file. We put the files on our mobile devices (Galaxy S3, Windows Phone, iTouch and Blackberry).

Believe it or not, this was extremely useful. Being able to walk in a place and listen, while watching the beauty was very useful. It was a huge time saver and made each venue that much more enjoyable. While there are not audio tours on the internet for every venue, there are plenty of written descriptions. Finding content was not a problem. It was actually fun to merge some of the internet sources and then record the text.

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8. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

Thanks for the info--it's a great idea. I have been doing lots of reading and research but don't want to walk around with lots of "notes" etc to remember what I've read. I will definitely check into this!

9. Re: Private Guide and Trip Report

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